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Taken By Pelham 123

To build momentum for the release of The Taking of Pelham 123—the remake of the 1972 cult classic now featuring Denzel Washington and John Travolta in the "haggard MTA worker" and "master criminal" roles respectively—Sony Pictures decided to arrange a field trip for a group of journalists deep into the bowels of New York City. Since we happen to have a thing for trudging through rat droppings and fighting off homeless knife attacks, we enthusiastically signed up.

 

Actually constructed out of used gum

Following a screening of the movie (you'll have to wait for the review), we were handed official "Pelham" knapsacks and marched along the city streets to the 59th Street station, where a group of MTA officials greeted us. Commandeering an out-of-service 6 train, we began a tour of those hidden areas that were long ago wiped off your subway map.

Along the way, we got a chance to chat with the 6 Train Manager, a salty New Yawker named Delio who has been with the MTA for 37 years. During his tenure, he has been involved in a number of subway-related movie shoots, including (incredibly) Nighthawks, The Warriors, and even the original Pelham. Asked about the new Pelham, Delio could only speak from what he has seen in the trailers, but…

6 Train manager Delio has some notes on your film.

"I don't know why they shot some scenes on the Manhattan Bridge," he shrugs. "The 6 train doesn't even go over the Manhattan Bridge."

Our Sony rep politely nudges him.

"What? I'm just giving my honest opinion." He turns back. "And the train models keep switching from scene to scene. It's suppose to be the same train, but they used three different ones."

The nudging becomes more emphatic. So the conversation turns back, naturally, to geeking out about Nighthawks and The Warriors.

Speaking of geeking out, our first stop was the old City Hall Station, which, of course, should be familiar to any self-respecting film nerd as "The Ghostbusters 2 Tunnel:

No slime, but we did see a homeless man who resembled Vigo the Carpathian

Still cleaner than most active stations

Clumsy Aykroyd damage repaired

After that, we hopped back on the train and had a few moments to dig into our rations. To anyone in Manhattan yesterday who saw an out-of-service 6 train blow through the station filled with schlubby weirdos in giveaway hats and T-shirts chowing on subs? Yeah, that was us.

Photos taken on moving trains? Flawless.

Ha. Geddit?

We arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge station and were taken to see "The Wine Cellar." Since nothing washes down half a Subway turkey on wheat better than a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, we were psyched. After we were told the MTA only discovered the "wine cellar" during the filming of Money Train (Oh, yes, the Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson Money Train) and that they had to forcibly remove a homeless man who had built some kind of Escape From New York-esque apartment deep in its bowels, enthusiasm dipped.

And you thought it was just where they kept the bodies.


Apparently the remnants of an old fort, the wine cellar was so named because they did discover a large store of wine and champagne in the caverns—perhaps also a leftover from the old fort.

That woman? Not part of our group. She's been lost down there since the '40s


We were shown hidden passages, remnants of old track lines, and lots of dust (nothing like coughing up a mixture of soot, dirt, and decomposed mammal). It was a Goonies experience, and a fascinating one. Our only regret was not having to fight off "The Crazies" and escape through a decrepit Chock Full O' Nuts.

You laugh, but this goes for $1,200 a month

The last thing a turnstile-hopper sees

Finally, a place to sit and eat my sandwich

Used to be a direct line to Fort Apache and Precinct 13

Looks ominous, but it's really a hobo tag that means: "A child wasn't killed here today"

And that was our day. Ghostbusters tunnels, film criticism, and the bowels of the NY subway. Oh, and if you happen to be in the Brooklyn Bridge station and you see a chubby bearded man with a Pelham knapsack and a severe cough emerging from unmarked doors—don't be alarmed. We've been looking for him all week.

 

Taking of Pelham 123 opens June 12th.